How They Got There: ASCS Drivers in the Brodix TOC August 5, 2004 (TULSA, Okla.) - When this year's edition of Knoxville's $10,000-to-win ASCS 360 National is finally put in the record books on Friday night, fifteen of the top American...
How They Got There: ASCS Drivers in the Brodix TOC
August 5, 2004 (TULSA, Okla.) - When this year's edition of Knoxville's $10,000-to-win ASCS 360 National is finally put in the record books on Friday night, fifteen of the top American Sprint Car Series shoes will shift their attention to the Brodix Tournament of Champions.
The invitational event, pitting top drivers from various sanctions throughout the country, offers a $4,000 winner's share. Each of the 87 drivers eligible for Sunday's TOC is also eligible to compete in Saturday night's $2,000-to-win feature at Knoxville Raceway.
The most talented and most diverse group of drivers among the 87 entries, the ASCS shoes will venture into relatively foreign territory and defiantly buck the odds of home track advantage shared by 30 representatives from Knoxville Raceway and the Sprint Invaders Association on Sunday night.
Following, in order of car number, is a brief look at each of the 15 ASCS representatives for this year's Brodix TOC.
#1 - Sean McClelland (Collinsville, OK) - Sooner Region
In his first full tour of duty on the American Bank of Oklahoma ASCS Sooner Region, the second-generation Tulsa-area shoe is ranked fourth in points, only 56 markers out of the lead. In 14 ASCS starts this year, Sean has made a habit of top-ten finishes by cracking the top-ten on ten occasions, with a fourth-place run in the season opening Sooner Region event in Caney, KS, his best. Many Knoxville attendees that double as Chili Bowl patrons are sure to recognize the "Cloud 9" sponsorship on Sean's No. 1 Eagle machine.
#3 - A.G. Rains (West Memphis, AR) - National
The Memphis-area shoe is making his first full run at the O'Reilly ASCS National Tour in 2004 and is currently the leading contender for Brodix Rookie of the Year honors over fellow rookie pilots Sam Hafertepe, Jr., Jimmy Taylor and Natalie Sather. Ranked seventh in points, A.G. has posted eight top-ten runs in 21 Nationals starts this year, with a runner-up showing at Oklahoma City's State Fair Speedway his best outing thus far.
#9 - Gary Wright (Hooks, TX) - National
The "Texan" enters this year's edition of the Brodix Tournament of Champions atop the O'Reilly ASCS National Tour point charts as he seeks his first ASCS crown. Five feature wins, extending his ASCS best career total to 86, highlights the fact that Wright has yet to finish outside the top ten in 23 National features, with 18 top-five finishes. Gary has also collected winner's hardware in 410-ci action with the Sprint Bandits at Little Rock's I-30 Speedway and in SCOA/NCRA action at Hollywood Hills Speedway.
#11f - Foster Landon (Collinsville, OK) - Sooner Region
Another representative of the disproportionately large racing population in Collinsville, Foster enters the TOC ranked sixth in Sooner Region points. Foster has raced to the checkered flag in the top-ten on four occasions in a dozen ASCS outings, falling a lap short of his second career ASCS victory when he nearly chased down Danny Wood at Ada's Oklahoma Sports Park on June 26. Foster is also ranked seventh in O'Reilly Sprint Bandits points, with four top-ten finishes in eight events.
#11p - Preston Peebles II (Lubbock, TX) - Sooner Region
A native of picturesque Lubbock, TX, the rookie pilot has successfully made the transition from the go-kart ranks to the powerful Sprint Cars, climbing to fifth in Sooner Region points. Preston posted a career-best second place finish in Rocky Mountain Region action at Dodge City on July 25, just six days before junking a car in combined National/Sooner action at Joplin 66 Speedway, making his TOC attendance questionable.
#11x - Garry Lee Maier (Cimarron, KS) - National
The first champion of the American Sprint Car Series in 1992, Garry Lee has been as busy as anyone in 2004, making 28 overall ASCS starts. While shut out of victory lane thus far on the grinding National Tour, Garry Lee topped the Sooner Region at Enid Motor Speedway on May 8 then decimated the Rocky Mountain Region field at home in Dodge City on July 25. With 13 heat race victories on the season, Garry Lee enters the TOC ranked fourth in points with eight top-fives and 19 top-tens.
#15 - Sam Hafertepe, Jr. (Sunnyvale, TX) - National
The 18-year-old kicked off the 2004 season by capturing his first career Sprint Car feature victory in the Gulf South Region opener at Thunder Valley Speedway in Union Hill, LA, on March 13. Sam then declared intentions to pursue Brodix Rookie of the Year honors on the National Tour, where he has posted three top-five runs. A recent high school grad ranked eighth in points, Sam will mix racing with the college life when the fall semester begins at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas.
#18 - Tony Bruce, Jr. (Liberal, KS) - Sooner Region
The Liberal, KS, shoe doesn't mind traveling, as he's taken in 26 ASCS events in 2004 along with a handful of O'Reilly Sprint Bandits shows. Chasing Sooner Region points, Tony is ranked fourth in points, just 72 markers out of the lead. Tony has also competed on a significant portion of the National Tour as well, climbing to 12th in points. His best finish thus far came in Gulf South action however, where he finished second in the ASCS debut at Waco's Heart O' Texas Speedway. Also ranked 15th in Sprint Bandits points, Tony celebrates his 20th birthday at Sunday's TOC.
#21t - Ray Allen Kulhanek (Conroe, TX) - Gulf South Region
The lone Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores ASCS Gulf South Region rep, Ray Allen is ranked ninth in Gulf South points despite missing one event. In his first full year of ASCS action, Ray Allen posted a career-best second place finish in Houston Raceway Park's Gulf South run on July 10, then ventured "north" this past weekend for National/Sooner action at Oklahoma City and Joplin. After a career-first top-ten National Tour finish of ninth at State Fair Speedway, he improved upon that with an impressive fourth-place showing at Joplin. Ray Allen may be in a local ride for the TOC rather then his usual David Miller-owned No. 21T.
#29 - Travis Rilat (Forney, TX) - National
The defending ASCS National champion, Travis has been the most proficient winner among the ASCS ranks in 2004, racking up eight victories, including six National wins along with single Gulf South and Sooner triumphs. The runner-up in the 2002 version of the TOC, Travis enters the weekend ranked second in National points, just 38 points out of the lead as he seeks to repeat. Travis is also ranked second in O'Reilly Sprint Bandits points, where he has also notched a pair of victories. Wins in local action at Cowtown and Heart O' Texas bring the Forney driver's 2004 win total to 12 thus far.
#50z - Zach Chappell (Talala, OK) - National
The 2001 ASCS National champion, now 22-year-old Zach enters this weekend ranked third in O'Reilly ASCS National points. Zach has collected a pair of victories this season, including a Sooner Region triumph at Tulsa in April and a National win at Nebraska Raceway Park in June. In 26 ASCS starts, Zach has crossed the stripe 14 times in the top-five and 21 times in the top-ten. Zach is also ranked fourth in O'Reilly Sprint Bandits points with two top-fives and five top-tens in eight events.
#61a - Toby Brown (Carthage, MO) - National
Along with Chappell, Toby ranks among the iron-men of ASCS, with neither missing an ASCS National event in several years. After top-six finishes in points the past three years, Toby is currently ranked fifth. After an at-the-time season-best third-place finish at Hollywood Hills on July 2, Toby soon after switched to an Eagle chassis after destroying his J&J in the Speedweek opener. Toby responded with a runner-up showing the next night at Little Rock's I-30 Speedway, then a fifth-place finish at Tri-State Speedway in Pocola, OK, three nights later.
#91 - Darren Stewart (Bixby, OK) - National
Darren is ranked sixth in ASCS National points despite missing the last several events. Darren has been consistently fast all year, posting three feature wins, 12 top-fives and 17 top-tens in 22 ASCS starts. Darren won in back-to-back fashion at Hollywood Hills in New Mexico, then topped the Tri-State Speedway round of Speedweek for the second year in a row. Darren also has a pair of top-five feature finishes in three O'Reilly Sprint Bandits starts.
#94 - Cody Branchcomb (Sapulpa, OK) - National
After top-ten ASCS National point finishes the past two years, with Brodix Rookie of the Year honors in 2002 and Most Improved Driver honors last year, the 18-year old is ranked 11th in points this year despite missing several events along the way. Cody's best run of the year came in Sooner Region action at Lawton Speedway on May 1, when he raced to a third place finish. Cody has copped top-ten runs on six other occasions this season.
#94s - Natalie Sather (Fargo, ND) - National
The 19-year-old has stepped up from the WISSOTA ranks, making the regular trek from North Dakota to pursue the full O'Reilly ASCS National Tour. Pursuing Brodix Rookie of the Year honors, Natalie enters the weekend ranked tenth in National points. Natalie has matched Garry Lee Maier's 28 ASCS starts so far this year, tops in the category. Natalie collected her first ASCS checkered flag by topping a heat race at Tunica's Delta Bowl Speedway on June 19, then backed it up with her best feature finish to date by crossing the stripe sixth that night. Natalie also notched a seventh-place run at Lubbock's Tech Motor Speedway on July 1.